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The Flu Vaccine and Diabetes: What You Should Know

If you have diabetes, it’s incredibly important to get your flu vaccine. Diabetes can cripple the immune system and make it harder for you to fight off viruses once you come into contact with them. However, getting a flu vaccine can help you build the antibodies necessary to fight off this contagious and serious virus.

Where to get a flu vaccine

You may be able to get a flu vaccine at the following locations:

  • Your general practitioner’s office
  • Shot clinic
  • Health clinic
  • Walk-in pharmacy clinic
  • Minor medical centers
  • Urgent care centers

Some employers will arrange for their employees to get a flu vaccine and cover the cost of the shot in order to cut down on employee sick time. Ask your employer if they cover the flu vaccine.

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How the flu affects diabetes

  1. Increased blood sugar. The flu can cause an increase in blood sugar, and if you’re already feeling terrible, you may not notice the change. Doctors recommend you test your blood sugar every 3-4 hours while ill. You may need to adjust your insulin while ill, so contact your doctor immediately if you think you are getting the flu.
  2. Pneumonia. People with diabetes are especially susceptible to flu complications, including pneumonia. To avoid major complications, contact your doctor at the first sign of illness. Flu symptoms include fever, severe aches and pains, weakness, headache, and sore throat.
  3. Nausea and vomiting. If you experience nausea and vomiting, it can be difficult to control your blood sugar. Doctors recommend eating about 15 grams of carbs every hour or so, like a slice of bread, ¾ cup of yogurt, or 1 cup of soup. If you have trouble keeping food down, ask your doctor about anti-nausea medications.
  4. Ketoacidosis. If you aren’t eating regularly while ill, you could develop ketoacidosis, a dangerous buildup of ketones in the bloodstream that can result in excessive thirst, frequent urination, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue, and confusion. Ketoacidosis is a serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention, so seek help immediately if you think you have it.